tv American History TV CSPAN October 11, 2015 9:44am-10:01am EDT
statues, our street names, and in the u.s. capital because we are influencing the minds of girls, we are influencing the minds of girls, of men, of boys, of women themselves. so if you would like to help, i am open to have volunteers, helpers. everybody, i am a counter, i count everything -- how many people in this room, how many ceiling tiles -- and i would love your help. [laughter] thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> i think every first lady should do something in this position to help the things she cares about. i just think that everything in the white house should be the best.
the love of children is the same the world over. i think it is good in a world where there is quite enough to divide the people, that we should cherish the emotion that unites us all. >> jacqueline kennedy's 1000 days as first lady were defined as images as a legal spouse, young mother, fashion icon, and advocate for the art. as television came of age it was ultimately the tragedy -- tragic images of president kennedy's assassination and funeral that cemented her in the public mind. jack and kennedy, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's original series, first ladies, inflicting damage. examining the public and private lives of the women who filled the position of first lady and their influence on the presidency. from martha washington to michelle obama. tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3.
this year c-span is touring cities across the country exploring american history. next, a look at our recent visit to santa rosa, california. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. gaye: sonoma county's agricultural history, i guess you could say, began with wine. the first vines planted here were by general vallejo. at the mission before general vallejo, probably in the late 1820's or early 1830's, which is a very long time ago. they were mission grapes, and nobody in their right mind would make wine out of the now, but they did then because that is what they had.
but the wine industry really significantly began in the 1850's, when a man bought property in the sonoma valley and started a winery that he called buena vista winery. that is the birthplace of what we now know as california wine culture. he didn't plant the first grapes. somebody was already growing grapes when he came. he got interested in european varietals in 1863. the state established a wine commission because people were getting interested in that. they sent him to europe and he brought back varietal cuttings of european grapes. the old mission grape went out the window and we begin to grow real grapes, real wine grapes, and he was the father of that movement. by 1920, sonoma county was the ninth raking county and agricultural production in the entire united states, not in
california, but in the nation, and that was significant because it was the product of a lot of different things. we were first in hops, significant in wine. petaluma was the chicken and egg basket of the world. in addition to that, we had apples in the north county, and french prunes. all through this, you had vineyards. you had little wineries, little acreage, farmers independent, the next generation, 200 acres of land, and they would have 10 acres of hops, 10 acres of vineyards, and a dozen apple trees and a dozen prune trees and maybe some peaches. they could make a living on a small farm in those years. that was very significant here.
one of the factors that has made sonoma county into wine country is the diversity of our population, and that population came in chunks. the emigrants came to be farm labor, because it was such a strong agricultural community. we needed farm labor, particularly the italian and german immigrants. the german immigrants tended not to be farm laborers, but they did bring wine making skills. but the italian immigration was a huge factor. the wine industry died in prohibition. we know that. not just here, but everywhere. the sons and daughters of these immigrants stopped drinking wine and started drinking gin. the wine industry languished. and then of course, after prohibition came the great depression.
after the great depression, world war ii. it was not until, i like to date the wine renaissance in sonoma county, and i call it a renaissance -- to the 1970's, when it was kind of a health kick that america went on and is still on, the whole idea of the holistic approach to food, and wine seemed and is more helpful -- healthful than hard liquor. with that one country label that started in the 1970's, by the 1980's and 1990's, we were beginning to be better and better known, and we became a tourist destination. that whole wine country thing has boomed into tourism and now brings over a billion dollars a year to sonoma county. john: we are in the west river valley, part of one of the wine appellations in sonoma county
here in northwest san francisco. when my folks first purchased the ranch in the late 1950's, they did not know at the time but, they saw quite a change in the ag industry happening in our little valley. it was the late 50's, it was the end of hop production, and we still have a neighboring winery that uses the name. hops -- they sold the end of saw the end of hops, the height of the prune orchards and business. there were prune dehydrators all up and down northern sonoma county at the time, and the beginnings of grapes being planted. my dad leased a property across the road for a couple of years, until the land was purchased and planted one of the first vineyards in our neighborhood.
within the first 10 years with my folks owning this ranch, they saw a dramatic change in the crops that were grown in the area. it hasn't always been wine country. we have a wonderful story of agriculture and here in the west river valley in sonoma county. my parents immigrated from lucerne, switzerland in the mid-1950's. my dad's dream was to start his his own dairy farm in california, and he was able to do that by purchasing this property. i started milking 50 cows twice a day at the end of 1968. -- 1958. the was a big change in the dairy industry in california in the early to mid 90's.
a lot of large dairy farms going in in the central valley. i talked to my parents at the time and we look at our options because it was pretty evident that our profit margins were going to be squeezed in the dairy business, so obviously living in this area we saw the changes in the growth of the wine industry and grape growing, so i felt it was really important for us to diversify, and so we started slowly in that late 1990's doing that. we grew our vineyard to about 40 acres over the last 15 years. the diversity has helped us. just diversifying doesn't necessarily equate to profitability. as long as we are diversifying into higher fight crops, we have -- higher value crops, we had a chance of keeping the farm
successful. hopefully -- we do sell to other wineries. we just started bottling our own wine under our own label a couple of years ago. i grow the grapes for the sections of the vineyard we take fruit from and the other will once that i sell grapes two. we have partnered with a consulting winemaker to help us make the wine. it is made at -- we don't have our own production facility here. we rent space at another facility and work with a consulting winemaker. again, trying to capture a bit more of the margin, vertically integrating our business to where we can produce the product and gravitate towards taking a percentage of our raw product, putting it into a finished product, and being able to sell directly to consumers down the road. we are a relatively small brand, relatively unknown.
you have to get a license for each state that you want to sell into. that is a challenge. it is also challenging when certain states, you've have to go through a distributor or broker to get into those states. that means that you have to sell your wine, you are not able to sell directly to the consumer, which is a higher margin. when you are small like we are, we are only producing 1000 cases of wine -- when we are small, to go through a distributor means we have to give up a lot of potential profit margin. so it is very difficult to do that. it is very difficult to get traction when you are a small brand, working through that three-tier system as they call it or distribution system in place and a lot of the states. how government is involved in agricultural business, very similar to other businesses. a lot of times the process of
these rules and regulations is what gets the average business owner bogged down. the process can be cumbersome, but there are programs that are really beneficial to agriculture. the usda has great conservation programs. we have participated in programs where they actually helped fund improvements to your ranch as long as it is done -- to help with conservation practices to claim, -- clean, to
keep soil erosion down, and those are great programs, because those programs -- there is an incentive to participate. so it is nice when you have that. the other thing, sometimes the rules and regulations are the same whether you are a small business or larger business. when you are small, you can't necessarily afford some of the changes or new rules and regulations. you can't do that as easily because of the burdensome financial responsibility it takes to do that. i have 15 full-time employees. i hire additional seasonal help in the vineyards. one of the biggest challenges facing united states agriculture, whether california or texas or new mexico or new york, is that -- the immigration program, the fact that we don't really have a program that is -- allows for some type of guest worker program, entry level workers who come into the country, helped with seasonal harvests, and then be able to go back to their country.
it would be -- it is really unfortunate because you have both sides of the aisle politically, they really just seem to not be listening to each other on this. everyone is stuck on their talking points, and a lot of times those talking points aren't the reality of what is going on at the farm level. it is really unfortunate, because as i mentioned, my parents came over to this country as immigrants, and there was a program that allow them to do that back in the 1950's. it is unfortunate that we don't have a program similar to that now. my dad came over, and his first job was milking cows near san jose, which is a egg freeway -- big freeway interchange now.
he was able to save his money milking cow's, got his citizenship by joining the u.s. army, came out, worked a couple more years and saved his money to buy this farm. that is the american dream. there is a lot of immigrant bashing going on right now, which i don't, i really don't understand that. i don't think it is really who we are as americans. it makes me sad that it has come to that. whereas we should be embracing immigrants. there needs to be a process. that is where i think our government has failed those of us in business, that process, setting up an immigration program where we can get people in here and do jobs that other people in this country will not do. agro tourism is a strong part of our local economy here. i think that will continue to grow, and i think there will be opportunities for other small
farmers that are doing other crops, other specialty crops, to be able to grab on the coattails of the wine industry and see some potential economic sustainability because of the growth of the local food movement. farmers markets, agricultural tourism, people visiting. the tourists who come in here need to stay someplace and eat someplace, local restaurants have great opportunity and they are buying local products, some farmers looking at doing specialty livestock, or specialty meats, i think there are great opportunities. we live in a great area in sonoma county that has a history of having a diverse agricultural base.